The TARDIS's inner door slammed shut.

'What got into him?' Destrii wondered.

'I have a horrible feeling I know...' Fey said, almost to herself.


'Nothing.' Fey said.

Destrii sighed, and rested her hand on the console. 'Jeez... It's always the cute ones who end up going bonkers on-' Her voice trailed off as she noticed the large brown envelope propped against the central column. 'Great. Now he's losing his memory.'

What, again? Fey thought.

-It is rather unlikely...- Shayde agreed.

'I mean, look at this.' Destrii continued. 'How can /anyone/ miss something like this?'

Of course, you know what that is, Fey thought.

She felt Shayde's affirmation in her mind. -Should we tell her?-

Oh, I think we can let her squirm a little longer, Fey replied, an evil smile on her face.

'Huh. Not addressed to anyone...' Destrii mused, looking the envelope over.

She rattled it. 'Hefty... huh, didn't see him come in with it- did you have something to do with this?'

Fey shook her head. 'Not me.'

'So if I open this, are you gonna shoot me in the head?'

'No.' Although you may wish I had...

Destrii opened the envelope, and pulled out a sheaf of papers.

'...What the hell's this?'

'What's what?' Fey said, knowing damn well what it was.

-Now that's cruel.-

It's worth it.

'Blahblahblah... Sign your ID card, then fill out these forms to apply for your benefits.' Destrii read. 'Again, thank you for your time, and best wishes on becoming a companion.

'Yours sincerely,

'The Author Perfectly Ordinary Businesspeople With Absolutely No Connection To Sicily Whatsoever... oh, that's just putting the boot in.'

She looked up, and into the smile on Fey's face.

'Welcome to the club.' Fey told her.

'Great. He only wants me for Izzy's body...' Destrii muttered sarcastically.

For a moment - just for a moment - Fey saw something that might have been hurt, might have been something else altogether, flicker in her blue eyes.

Then it was gone.

Destrii pulled the sheaf of papers out, placed them on the console, and rummaged around in the envelope. 'O-kay, lemme see..._gotcha_.'

She pulled out two cards.

'Lessee...' she said, peering at one of them. 'Jeez, the dweeb's eyesight *sucks*. Okay... Companion ID card.

'Name: Destriianatos... Well, at least they got /that/ one right for once. Species: body - human, mind - as yet unspecified piscine humanoid... oh, I could specify it, all right... Timeline: DWM comic strip. Signature... hey, gotta pen?'

Fey handed her one.

'Thanks.' Destrii scribbled on the card. 'Okay... now, what's this?'

Fey craned to see the other card Destrii held up.

Destrii, in her fish girl body, standing back-to-back with Destrii in her current body. Izzy's body.

Behind them both was a metallic red serpent eating its tail.

The caption beneath it said 'Uroboros'.

Destrii blinked at it, then put it back down. 'Huh. Not my best side.'

-Hmm.- Shayde remarked.

Fey nodded, and summoned her card to her hand.

Fey, standing in a darkened hall.

In the shadows, her expression was unreadable.

Her caption read 'Shadow'.

She flicked it back as Destrii started flicking through the papers.

'Pension plan... health plan... Mortality Deferment Card application...' Destrii let out a long, low, admiring whistle. 'And I got a free resurrection thanks to the wonders of Mobox technology... This gig definitely has its perks.'

Of course, the fact said Mobox brought her back to give her a slow death doesn't matter, Fey remarked.

-Indeed.- Shayde agreed.

Destrii turned to face her. 'So what's the catch? Apart from the fact the Doc's in la-la land?'

'Well...' Fey said, wincing. 'To all intents and purposes, you're bound by the contract with the Family who handle your Inside - it should be in there.'

Destrii flicked through to the end. 'Found it...'

Her eyes widened as she read it. 'WHAT THE FREAKING HELL?! Those complete, utter, utter...'

'Idiots?' Fey suggested.

'Bastards!' Destrii finished. ''Cause if I've got this straight, this thing says that 'till I leave, they can do anything to me Inside they need to "further the story", and I can't do word one about it! Don't you have a union?'

'We tried it,' Fey said, shuddering. 'Never again. /Never/ again.'

'They're not getting me to sign this.' Destrii said. 'Nope. No way.'

'Take another look.' Fey said.

Destrii looked.

Her signature was at the bottom of the contract.

'Hey, wait a minute...'

'Standard companion contract.' Fey explained. 'They assume your consent. I believe they find it makes things smoother.'

Destrii slumped against a girder. 'Lemme guess: they're not called the Author Mafia for nothing, are they?'

Fey shook her head. 'No, they're not.'

Noting the expression on Destrii's face, she added 'You could always try Alternative Universe stories, but they usually end up creating more versions of us, and they're rarely official.'

'More?' Destrii said.

'More. 8Doc's and 5Doc's - which includes us - are usually the most prone to those.'

'Hmm...' Destrii said thoughtfully.

'Anything else?'

'Yeah... what's with your teleportation thing?'

Shayde? Fey inquired.

-I would suspect she already knows. It is best she hears our side, too.-

Very well.

'That would be Shayde.' Fey replied.


'Shayde.' Fey confirmed. 'He's the oldest of us - going by the Reality calendar, he's been around since 1982.'

'Say *what*?!' The expression on Destrii's face was something Fey would treasure for a long time.

She permitted herself a smile, and continued.

'He's been a supporting character until... well, until I came along, about 1998.

'Until I merged with him.

'And once he joined with me, I gained access to his abilities.'

Destrii eyed her. 'Right. Of course, you know that tells me absolutely nothing about him.'

Fey spread her hands. 'What's there to say? He's a shadow construct created by the Matrix Lords - a creature of reason, created without free will, to do Mr Rassilon's dirty work.

'A living weapon, and armed appropriately.'

'So does that mean you jump to Mr Rassilon's tune?' Destrii said, raising an eyebrow. 'Don't think he'd be happy you're working for the Doc.'

Fey shrugged. 'He's had no problems so far, so... no. Shayde developed free will. He /can/ refuse, if he so chooses.'

-Fey, this is not the time to bring that up again.-

Don't worry, Shayde. I'm just filling her in.

-Very well. However, I think we do need to discuss the matter later. Preferably without unreasonable shouting.-

'Must be nice for some people...' Destrii said under her breath.

Fey refrained from comment.

-A sentient being who had no choice in her creation, or her destructive purpose...- Shayde mused.

True enough, Fey said. True enough. We of all people should know *that*...

...but it doesn't make her any less dangerous.

'So what now?' Destrii finally said.

'Right now?' Fey checked the console readout. 'We'll be coming in to land in a few minutes.'

'Great.' Destrii muttered. 'If anyone needs me, I'll be by the bookshelves.'

-She was written as narcissistic, probably borderline sociopathic, willing to use homicidal violence in the cause of her own freedom so far as that cause was furthered...- Shayde observed, as they watched her go. -With that as the basis for her world view, it will make integration a difficult task.-

Not that much different from the way Compassion was, really, Fey said. Although she's rather more passionate...

-Hm.- Shayde said. -She does have a point, though. The Doctor wants her simply to return Izzy's body.-

But she wants more, Fey said, remembering the flicker in Destrii's eyes. Wants him to see her as more. What she thinks she could be.

-None of us will easily forgive stealing Izzy's body.- Shayde said. -But I doubt she understands why we won't let it drop.-

What did she expect? Fey said quietly. A pat on the back, acclamation all round, all things forgotten?

-At the very least,- Shayde said, -she expected she meant something to the Doctor. That she mattered to him.

-That he might actually _hate_ her does not seem to have occurred to her.

-Left unchecked, such a belief poses a serious risk. And given our track record with Nyssa's psychosis- Wait.-


-...My apologies, Fey. I have just received a sub-etheric transmission from Compassion. She informs me that the others - read "she twisted their arms into agreeing" - have arranged a quiet meal to mark Destrii's joining us, and wishes to know when would be a good time to break the news to her.-

I believe it'd be best to wait until after we meet the others. The Doctor's in a particularly foul mood at the moment, and I don't think it'd be wise to have Destrii anywhere near him.

-Understood. Do you believe it would be wise to allow Destrii with the others?-

She _is_ one of us now, Shayde, whether we like it or not, Fey said grimly. And we're going to have to face up to what that means sooner or later. Preferably sooner - I'm not entirely sanguine about the Doctor's current behaviour.

-Neither am I.-

That makes three of us.

'He-llooooo? Hello? Is anyone there?' Destrii waved her hand in front of Fey's face. 'Jeez! Warn me when you're gonna zone out!'

'It's an eccentricity of mine.' Fey said.

'*That's* reassuring...' Destrii returned.

The sound of the TARDIS's materialisation echoed throughout the room.

'...And we're here.' Fey murmured. 'Time to face the music.'

The inner door opened.




Author's notes: Yep, Destrii's now an 8Doc companion. And, yep, she's not of the sane.

Even compared to the rest of them.

She's not quite Nyssa-level, though (doesn't have that whole obsession going). Doesn't make her any less unpredictable, though...


Copyright 2002 Imran Inayat.